Quotations about:
    misery


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Life brings no greater grief
Than happiness remembered in a time
Of sorrow.

[Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Ne la miseria.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 5, l. 121ff (5.121-123) [Francesca] (1320) [tr. James (2013), l. 141ff]
    (Source)

Francesca de Rimini is responding to Dante's request to speak of her love affair while in the middle of being punished for it. It is a true (if slanted) tale that occured when Dante was a young man. Francesca da Polenta wed the crippled Giovanni Malatesta de Rimini, but fell in adulterous love with his brother, Paolo. Upon discovery of their affair, Giovanni killed them both. This was a local scandal, and would have been lost to time if Dante had not recorded it here. He relegates the lovers to "least" eternal punishment in Hell, in the circle of carnal sins -- while Giovanni (who was still alive when this was written) is doomed to a lower circle for the murder (treachery to kindred). (More info.)

Inspiration for this particular phrase has been credited to many sources: Wisdom 11:11-12, Boethius (Consolation of Philosophy, 2.4.3-6), and Pindar (Pythian 4.510-512) are the most common. Augustine (Confessions 10.14) and Thomas Aquinas have also been cited.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

No greater grief assails us [...]
Than in unhappy hours to recollect
A better time.
[tr. Rogers (1782)]

Oh! how grievous to relate
Past joys, and tread again the paths of fate.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 23]

No greater grief than to remember days
Of joy, when mis'ry is at hand!
[tr. Cary (1814)]

No keener pang hath hell.
Than to recall, amid some deep distress,
Our happier time.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

There is no greater pain than to recall a happy time in wretchedness.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

There is no greater grief
Than to remember happiness in woe.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

No greater grief than this,
Mem'ry to hold of the past happy time
In misery.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

There is no greater sorrow
Than to be mindful of the happy time
In misery.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

No greater woe is there than to call to mind the happy time in your misery.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

There is no greater grief
Than to remember us of happy time
In misery.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

There is no greater woe than in misery to remember the happy time.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

No deeper sorrow is, than to recall a time of happiness, in misery's hour.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

There is no greater sorrow
Than to recall to memory times of gladness
In misery.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

There is no greater pain than to recall the happy time in misery.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

No grief surpasses this [...]
In the midst of misery to remember bliss.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

The bitterest woe of woes
Is to remember in our wretchedness
Old happy times.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

The double grief of a lost bliss
is to recall its happy hour in pain.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

There is no greater sorrow than to recall, in wretchedness, the happy time.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

There is no greater pain
than to remember, in our present grief,
past happiness!
[tr. Musa (1971)]

There is no greater sorrow
than thinking back upon a happy time
in misery.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

There is no greater sorrow
Than to think backwards to a happy time,
When one is miserable.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

No sadness
Is greater than in misery to rehearse
Memories of joy.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 107ff]

There is no greater pain than to remember the happy time in wretchedness.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

There is no greater pain, than to remember happy times in misery.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

There is no sorrow greater
than, in times of misery, to hold at heart
the memory of happiness.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

There is no greater sorrow
than to recall our time of joy
in wretchedness.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

No sadness afflicts the heart
More than recalling, in times of utter disaster,
Sweetened days in which we knew no darkness.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

 
Added on 23-Dec-22 | Last updated 23-Dec-22
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

I know that I suffer and this is no small pain:
Not to know, now that brings some pleasure to
The troubled — ignorance is an advantage amid grief.

[φρονῶ δ’ ὃ πάσχω, καὶ τόδ’ οὐ σμικρὸν κακόν·
τὸ μὴ εἰδέναι γὰρ ἡδονὴν ἔχει τινὰ
νοσοῦντα, κέρδος δ’ ἐν κακοῖς ἀγνωσία.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Antiope [Αντιοπη], frag. 205 (Kannicht) (c. 410 BC) [tr. @sentantiq (2015)]
    (Source)

A source for the phrase, "Ignorance is bliss." (Source (Greek); see also TGF frag 204). Alternate translation:

I understand what I endure, and this
Is no small evil; for to the diseas'd
There is a kind of pleasure in not knowing
Their malady; such ignorance is gain
To those who labor under grievous woes.
[tr. Wodhall (1809); Barnes 23, Musgrave 24]

I understand what I suffer, and this is not a small evil:
for not to know that one is ailing has some pleasure,
in misery ignorance is an advantage.
[tr. Will (2015)]

 
Added on 20-Sep-22 | Last updated 20-Sep-22
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If you wind up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mother, your Dad, your priest, to some guy on television, to any of the people telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.

Frank Zappa (1940-1993) American singer-songwriter
The Real Frank Zappa Book, ch. 13 “All About Schmucks” (1989) [with Peter Occhiogrosso]
    (Source)

Frequently quoted with variations (perhaps from other occasions when Zappa said it), e.g.,:

If you end up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.
 
Added on 14-Jul-22 | Last updated 14-Jul-22
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He that has light within his own clear breast
May sit i’th center, and enjoy bright day,
But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
Himself is his own dungeon.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, ll. 380-84 (1634)
    (Source)

The title was changed to Comus for the 1737 stage version.
 
Added on 7-Feb-22 | Last updated 7-Feb-22
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Comrades, we’re well acquainted with evils, then and now.
Worse than this you have suffered. God will end all this too.

[O socii — neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum —
O passi graviora, dabit deus his quoque finem.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 1, l. 198ff (1.198-199) [Aeneas] (29-19 BC) [tr. Day Lewis (1952)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Endure, and conquer! Jove will soon dispose
To future good our past and present woes.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

O companions, who have sustained severer ills than these, (for we are not strangers to former days of adversity,) to these, too, God will grant a termination.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Comrades and friends! for ours is strength
⁠Has brooked the test of woes;
O worse-scarred hearts! these wounds at length
⁠The Gods will heal, like those.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

O friends, who greater sufferings still have borne,
(for not unknown to us are former griefs,)
And end also to these the deity
Will give.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 251ff]

O comrades, for not now nor aforetime are we ignorant of ill, O tried by heavier fortunes, unto this last likewise will God appoint an end.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

O fellows, we are used ere now by evil ways to wend;
O ye who erst bore heavier loads, this too the Gods shall end.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Comrades! of ills not ignorant; far more
Than these ye suffered, and to these as well
Will Jove give ending, as he gave before.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 27 / l. 235ff]

Companions mine, we have not failed to feel
calamity till now. O, ye have borne
far heavier sorrow: Jove will make an end
also of this.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

O comrades -- for ere this we have not been ignorant of evils -- O ye who have borne a heavier lot, to this, too, God will grant an end!
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

O comrades, we have been through evil
Together before this; we have been through worse
[...] This, too, the god will end.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

O comrades -- surely we're not ignorant
of earlier disasters, we who have suffered
things heaver than this -- our god will give
an end to this as well.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 276ff]

Friends and companions,
Have we not known hard hours before this?
My men, who have endured still greater dangers,
God will grant us an end to these as well.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 270ff]

My friends, this is not the first trouble we have known. We have suffered worse before, and this too will pass. God will see to it.
[tr. West (1990)]

Trojans! This is not our first taste of trouble.v You have suffered worse than this, myfriends,
And God will grant an end to this also.
[tr. Lombardo (2005), l. 234ff]

My comrades, hardly strangers to pain before now,
we all have weathered worse. Some god will grant us
an end to this as well.
[tr. Fagles (2006)]

My friends: we're no strangers to misfortune. You've suffered worse; some god will end this too.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 22-Dec-21 | Last updated 22-Dec-21
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When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Factotum, ch. 31 (1975)
 
Added on 22-Dec-21 | Last updated 22-Dec-21
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Wretchedness is caused by emotional disturbances, and the happy life by calmness, and disturbance takes two forms — anxiety and fear in expecting evils, ecstatic joy and lustful thoughts in misunderstanding good things, all of which are at variance with with wisdom and reason. Accordingly, if a man possesses self-control and consistency, and is without fear, distress, excitability, or lust, is he not happy? But this is the nature of the wise man always, so he is happy always.

[Atque cum perturbationes animi miseriam, sedationes autem vitam efficiant beatam, duplexque ratio perturbationis sit, quod aegritudo et metus in malis opinatis, in bonorum autem errore laetitia gestiens libidoque versetur, quae omnia cum consilio et ratione pugnent, his tu tam gravibus concitationibus tamque ipsis inter se dissentientibus atque distractis quem vacuum solutum liberum videris, hunc dubitabis beatum dicere? atqui sapiens semper ita adfectus est; semper igitur sapiens beatus est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 5, ch. 15 (5.15) / sec. 43 (45 BC) [tr. Davie (2017)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Now since the Disturbances of the Soul render the Life miserable, but the composure of them happy; and there is a double rank of Passions; in that, Discontent and Fear are terminated on Evils conceiv'd; but excessive Mirth and Lust arise from the misapprehension of good things, since all are inconsistent with Advice and Reason, if you shall see any one clear, emancipated, free from these emotions so vehement, so discordant one with the other, and so distracting, can you make any question of calling him Happy? But the Wise man is always so dispos'd, therefore the Wise man is always Happy.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

But as the perturbations of the mind make life miserable, and tranquility renders it happy: and as these perturbations are of two sorts; grief and fear, proceeding from imagined evils, immoderate joy and lust, from the mistake of what is good; and all these are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance with one another, can you hesitate to pronounce such a one a happy man? Now the wise man is always in such a disposition: therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Main (1824)]

But when the perturbations render life unhappy, while their repose makes it happy -- and since the mode of perturbation is twofold -- sorrow and fear having birth from reputed evils -- the delirium of joy and desire, from the delusion of good, -- when all these are repugnant to counsel and reason, and you see a man void, exempt, free from these excitements, so vehement, so discordant, so distracted by mutual conflicts, -- will you hesitate to pronounce him happy? But the wise man is always thus, and therefore always happy.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

But as the perturbations of the mind make life miserable, and tranquillity renders it happy; and as these perturbations are of two sorts, grief and fear, proceeding from imagined evils, and as immoderate joy and lust arise from a mistake about what is good, and as all these feelings are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance with one another can you hesitate to pronounce such an one a happy man? Now the wise man is always in such a disposition, therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Now since perturbations of mind create misery, while quietness of mind makes life happy, and since there are two kinds of perturbations, grief and fear having their scope in imagined evils, inordinate joy and desire in mistaken notions of the good, all being repugnant to wise counsel and reason, will you hesitate to call him happy whom you see relieved, released, free from these excitements so oppressive, and so at variance and divided among themselves? Indeed one thus disposed is always happy. Therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

 
Added on 18-Nov-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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Whoever increases the sum of human joy, is a worshipper.

He who adds to the sum of human misery, is a blasphemer.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
    (Source)
 
Added on 20-Oct-21 | Last updated 20-Oct-21
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Now, do you think this could possibly happen to a wise person, to be subject to distress in this way? That is, to misery? For every emotion is a misery, but distress is a very torture-chamber. Desire scalds us; wild delight makes us giddy; fear degrades us, but the effects of distress are worse: gauntness, pain, depression, disfigurement. It eats away at the mind and, in a word, destroys it. This we must shed; this we must cast away, or else remain in misery.

[Hoc tu igitur censes sapienti accidere posse, ut aegritudine opprimatur, id est miseria? nam cum omnis perturbatio miseria est, tum carnificina est aegritudo. habet ardorem libido, levitatem laetitia gestiens, humilitatem metus, sed aegritudo maiora quaedam, tabem cruciatum adflictationem foeditatem, lacerat exest animum planeque conficit. hanc nisi exuimus sic ut abiciamus, miseria carere non possumus.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 3, ch. 13 (3.13) / sec. 27 (45 BC) [tr. Graver (2002)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Now do you think this possible to befall a wise man, to be overwhelm'd with Discontent, that is, with Misery? For whereas every Passion is Misery, Discontent is a Rack. Lust hath its Scorching; Fond Pleasure its Levity; Fear a meanness of Spirit; but Discontent carrieth along with it more destructive Evils; a Consumption, Torture, Vexation, Deformity. It tears, it frets the Soul like a Canker, and utterly brings it to Destruction. Unless we put off this, so as to cast it away, we can never want for Misery.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

Do you then think it can befall a wise man to be oppressed with grief, i.e., with misery? For, as all perturbation is misery, grief is the rack itself; lust is attended with heat; exulting joy with levity; fear with a meanness; but grief is something greater than these; it consumes, torments, afflicts, and disgraces a man; it tears him, preys upon him, and quite puts an end to him. If we do not divest ourselves so of it, as to throw it quite off, we cannot be free from misery.
[tr. Main (1824)]

then, dost think this may occur to the wise man, that he should be oppressed with sorrow, -- that is, with misery? For, while every perturbation is misery, sorrow is misery in torture. Cupidity has ardour, exulting joy levity, fear humiliation; but sorrow implies something greater, -- infection, torment, prostration, pollution; it lacerates, it gnaws the mind, and consumes it utterly. Unless we strip it off, so as to cast it from us, we cannot escape misery.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

Do you, then, think that it can befall a wise man to be oppressed with grief, that is to say, with misery? for, as all perturbation is misery, grief is the rack itself. Lust is attended with heat, exulting joy with levity, fear with meanness, but grief with something greater than these; it consumes, torments, afflicts, and disgraces a man; it tears him, preys upon his mind, and utterly destroys him: if we do not so divest ourselves of it as to throw it completely off, we cannot be free from misery.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Do you then think that it can happen to a wise man to be overcome by grief, that is, by misery ? Nay more, while every perturbation of the soul is misery, grief is torture. Lust is attended by ardor, ecstatic joy by levity, fear by abjectness; but grief has, worse than all these, wasting, torment, distress, noisomeness. It lacerates, corrodes and utterly consumes the soul. Unless we so divest ourselves of it as to throw it entirely away, we cannot be otherwise than miserable.
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

 
Added on 16-Aug-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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But aren’t we, the living, wretched since we must die? What pleasure can there be in life, when day and night we must reflect that we have to die, and at any moment?

[Qui vivimus, cum moriendum sit, nonne miseri sumus? quae enim potest in vita esse iucunditas, cum dies et noctes cogitandum sit iam iamque esse moriendum?]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 1, ch. 7 (1.7) / sec. 14 [Auditor] (45 BC) [tr. Douglas (1985)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

What say you of us that are alive, can we be other than miserable, since we must die? for what enjoyment can there be in life, when we are to think day and night that die we must of a certain, and it is uncertain whether this or the next Moment?
[tr. Wase (1643)]

What then? we that are alive, are we not wretched, seeing we must die? for what is there agreeable in life, when we must night and day reflect that we may instantly die?
[tr. Main (1824)]

But what? as to us who are alive, are we not miserable? For, what pleasantness can there be in life, when, by night and by day, we have to reflect already, even already, we are to die?
[tr. Otis (1839)]

What then? we that are alive, are we not wretched, seeing we must die? for what is there agreeable in life, when we must night and day reflect that, at some time or other, we must die?
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Yet are not we who live miserable, seeing that we must die? For what pleasure can there be in life, while by day and by night we cannot but think that we may die at any moment?
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

But how then? Are not we, who live, miserable, seeing that we must die? For what pleasure can there be in life when, night and day, the thought cannot fail to haunt us, that at any moment we must die?
[tr. Black (1889)]

Aren't the living miserable, since we have to die? What joy can there be in life if day and night we are forced to consider the inevitable approach of death?
[tr. Habinek (1996)]

Are we not wretched, we who live though we must die? What joy can there be in life, when we must think day and night that we must at some time die?
[tr. @sententiq (2016)]

 
Added on 26-Jul-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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Try not to pay attention to those who will try to make life miserable for you. There will be a lot of those — in the official capacity as well as the self-appointed. Suffer them if you can’t escape them, but once you have steered clear of them, give them the shortest shrift possible.

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) Russian-American poet, essayist, Nobel laureate, US Poet Laureate [Iosif Aleksandrovič Brodskij]
“Speech at the Stadium,” Commencement Address, University of Michigan (18 Dec 1988)
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Added on 15-Jun-21 | Last updated 15-Jun-21
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Oftentimes, when people are miserable, they will want to make other people miserable, too. But it never helps.

Lemony Snicket (b. 1970) American author, screenwriter, musician (pseud. for Daniel Handler)
The Wide Window (2000)
    (Source)
 
Added on 9-Dec-20 | Last updated 9-Dec-20
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There is no happiness in life, there is no misery, like that growing out of the dispositions which consecrate or desecrate a home.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
Living Words (1860)
    (Source)
 
Added on 2-Oct-20 | Last updated 2-Oct-20
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Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Tempest, Act 3, sc. 2, l. 40 [Trinculo] (1611)
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Added on 28-Sep-20 | Last updated 30-Jun-22
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If it be true, that men are miserable because they are wicked, it is likewise true, that many are wicked because they are miserable.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) English poet and critic
Aids to Reflection, “Prudential Aphorisms II” (1831 ed.)
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If life becomes hard to bear we think of a change in our circumstances. But the most important and effective change, a change in our own attitude, hardly even occurs to us, and the resolution to take such a step is very difficult for us.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) Austrian-English philosopher
Culture and Value, 1946 (1977) [tr. Winch (1980)]
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He imagined the pain of the world to be like some formless parasitic being seeking out the warmth of human souls wherein to incubate and he thought he knew what made one liable to its visitations. What he had not known was that it was mindless and so had no way to know the limits of those souls and what he feared was that there might be no limits.

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
All the Pretty Horses (1992)
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Added on 24-Feb-20 | Last updated 24-Feb-20
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He who has so little knowledge of human nature, as to seek happiness by changing any thing but his own dispositions, will waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the griefs which he purposes to remove.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #6 (7 Apr 1750)
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A stranger to human nature, who saw the indifference of men about the misery of their inferiors, and the regret and indignation which they feel for the misfortunes and sufferings of those above them, would be apt to imagine that pain must be more agonizing, and the convulsions of death more terrible, to people of higher rank than to those of meaner stations.

Adam Smith (1723-1790) Scottish economist
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1.3.2 (1759)
 
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He who walks through a great city to find subjects for weeping, may, God knows, find plenty at every corner to wring his heart; but let such a man walk on his course, and enjoy his grief alone — we are not of those who would accompany him. The miseries of us poor earthdwellers gain no alleviation from the sympathy of those who merely hunt them out to be pathetic over them. The weeping philosopher too often impairs his eyesight by his woe, and becomes unable from his tears to see the remedies for the evils which he deplores. Thus it will often be found that the man of no tears is the truest philanthropist, as he is the best physician who wears a cheerful face, even in the worst of cases.

Charles Mackay (1814-1889) Scottish poet, journalist, song writer
Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds (1841)
 
Added on 19-Aug-16 | Last updated 19-Aug-16
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Most men make use of the first part of their life to render the last part miserable.

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
Les Caractères, “De l’Homme” (1688)
 
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We make ourselves miserable by first closing ourselves off from reality and then collecting this and that in an attempt to make ourselves happy by possessing happiness. But happiness is not something I have, it is something I myself want to be. Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over my body.

Corless - taping sandwiches - wist_info quote

Roger J. Corless (1938–2007) Anglo-American religious academic, Buddhist scholar, ecumenicist
Vision of Buddhism: the Space Under the Tree (1989)

The last sentence is frequently misattributed to George Carlin (with "your body").
 
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I live my life in celebration and in praise of the life I’m living. What you focus on expands. The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. The more you complain, the more you find fault, the more misery and fault you will have to find.

Oprah Winfrey (b. 1954) American TV personality, actress
“Words of the Week,” Jet (27 Oct 1986)
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There are two means of refuge from the misery of life: music and cats.

Schweitzer - music and cats - wist_info quote

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) Alsatian theologian, philosopher, physician, philanthropist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 3-May-16 | Last updated 3-May-16
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The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation.

Shaw - miserable - wist_info quote

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Treatise on Parents and Children, “Children’s Happiness” (1914)
 
Added on 17-Dec-15 | Last updated 17-Dec-15
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SYDNEY: You don’t seem to realize that a poor person who is unhappy is in a better position than a rich person who is unhappy. Because the poor person has hope. He thinks money would help.

Jean Kerr (1922-2003) American author and playwright [b. Bridget Jean Collins]
Poor Richard, Act 1 (1965)
 
Added on 12-Oct-15 | Last updated 12-Oct-15
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Liquor doesn’t make you feel better. Just makes you not so worried about feeling bad.

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James S. A. Corey (contemp.) American writer [pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck]
Leviathan Wakes, ch. 42 (2011) [with Ty Franck]
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Added on 9-Sep-15 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 7 epigraph “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar” (1894)
 
Added on 11-May-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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That thro certain Humours or Passions, and from Temper merely, a Man may be completely miserable; let his outward Circumstances be ever so fortunate.

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
“An Inquiry Concerning Virtue, or Merit”
 
Added on 28-Nov-14 | Last updated 28-Nov-14
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For at least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism, and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Knowledge and Understanding,” Vedanta and the West (May-Jun 1956)
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Revision of a 1955 lecture given at the Vedanta Society of Southern California; this phrase, however, does not occur in it (the surrounding text is found around the 10:00 mark). Reprinted in Adonis and the Alphabet, and Other Essays (in the US Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and Other Essays) (1956).
 
Added on 5-Nov-14 | Last updated 25-Jan-22
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PURITANISM: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“Arcana Coelestia,” A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
 
Added on 16-Sep-14 | Last updated 2-May-16
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The misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continually repeated.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Lives of the English Poets, “Pope” (1781)
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Added on 1-Aug-14 | Last updated 1-Aug-14
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Misery is almost always the result of thinking.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
 
Added on 9-Sep-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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It is not sufficiently considered how much he assumes who dares to claim the privilege of complaining; for as every man has, in his own opinion, a full share of the miseries of life, he is inclined to consider all clamorous uneasiness as a proof of impatience rather than of affliction, and to ask, what merit has this man to show, by which he has acquired a right to repine at the distributions of nature? Or, why does he imagine that exemptions should be granted him from the general condition of man? We find ourselves excited rather to captiousness than pity, and, instead of being in haste to sooth his complaints by sympathy and tenderness, we inquire whether the pain be proportionate to the lamentation; and whether, supposing the affliction real, it is not the effect of vice and folly, rather than calamity?

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #50 (8 Sep 1750)
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Added on 16-Aug-13 | Last updated 26-Jun-22
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How long is life to the wretched, how short for the happy!

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 621 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
 
Added on 27-Jul-11 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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It is a consolation to the wretched to have companions in misery.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 995
 
Added on 30-Apr-08 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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Fellowship in woe doth woe assuage.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
“Lucrece,” l. 790 (1594)
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Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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The miserable have no other medicine
But only hope.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Measure for Measure, Act 3, sc. 1, l. 2ff [Claudio] (1604)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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Nobody really cares if you’re miserable, so you might as well be happy.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Cynthia Nelms
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Apr-14
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We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.

Carlos Casteneda (1931-1999) Peruvian-American writer, mystic, anthropologist
The Teachings of Don Juan (1968)

Also attributed to Journey to Ixtlan (1972).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Sep-16
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When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
“My Day” (16 Feb 1946)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jan-15
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Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy.
This wide and universal theater
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 2, sc. 7, l. 142ff [Duke Senior] (1599)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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